Usually people diagnosed with mental and intellectual disorder are considered less capable and the best protection they are offered is to become convicts under juridical disability. The consequences are far from the idea of freedom, protection and desirable in such mechanism. People under juridical disability, regardless their whishes and preferences:

  • Don’t have the right to decide (where to live, what to do with their money) and another person moulds their lives according his judgement and interest;
  • They are deprived of the right to start a family and to get married
  • Very often they are forced by their relatives to live in institutions to the end of their lives.

The result: quite often the persons convicted under judicial disability are arraigned against social isolation, violence and ill treatment either among the community or in the institutions. About 2012 nearly 7,500 people are under judicial disability, 3,500 are placed under care in specialized institutions, where their rights of life, free of torture and humiliation are taken away.

The Decision

The supporting decision making are a sum total of mechanisms for support, directed to exercise rights, according to the choice, will and preferences of the person in need.

The supporting decision making is based on the following worldly truths and values:

  • Every human, nevertheless he has a damage and how serious is it, has his own whishes, preferences and will;
  • His whishes, preferences and will must always be recognized and respected, regardless the problems in communication;
  • Each human nevertheless if he has any injury and how serious is it, at a certain moment he needs support for his decision making and he receives it from the people whom he trusts.


The supported decision making actuates at a certain time and in particular spheres of life, when one meets difficulties to cope absolutely alone. Therefore that is the key to giving power and at the same time is a precaution measure against subordinating people’s in unequal situation life to other people’s interests, ambitions, fears and ideas.

This photo story begins with the Campaign for public support raising for legislative reform regarding judicial disability, guardianship and trusteeship, in accordance with the UN Convention for people with physical disability rights, ratified by Bulgaria in the beginning of 2002.

People with problems concerning psychical health and intellectual difficulties must have an equal chance for independent lives. With appropriate support they can make decisions about where and who they will live with, how to manage their money, to decide how to use their free time, namely they can exercise their rights personally.
So that this will happen, in a way which guarantees, protection against misappropriation and manipulation are the necessary legislative changes to introduce the conception of supported decision making.

The photo story has been realized within the project “Article 12 – the next step”, implemented by the Bulgarian Center for Non-profit law.
The funds for that project have been granted by the Foundation “Open Society”.
Photographer: Boyan Hristov
Idea, realization and text: Yana Burer Tavanier

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